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Thursday, 16 June 2011 09:04

Ministry of Corrections audit finds Sask. has highest crime rate

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By John R. Statton — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Saskatchewan has the highest crime rate in the country per capita.

The Provincial Auditor released the first volume of her office’s 2011 report June 3.

“The crime rate is based on a per capita basis, so it’s based on crimes per 1,000 population. We try to equalize our population, so when you look at statistics by provinces, western Canada in general is a higher crime rate than the rest of the country, and within the four western provinces, Saskatchewan is number one, followed by Manitoba, and then I believe Alberta and B.C. in that order,” said Brian Rector, director of program development and therapeutic services with the Sask. Ministry of Corrections.

Rector did not try to down play the staggering statistic, and indicated the ministry is concerned about the numbers. According to the report, the auditor found there was not sufficient contact between probation officers and 83 per cent of offenders deemed high risk of re-offending, within the Regina area.

The report also noted in Saskatchewan, re-offenders were back in a correctional program within 24 months at a 47 per cent rate.

“The provincial auditor reviewed probation and rehabilitation based on 11 criteria — of which we met many of the criteria —  that’s why they concluded that we do have adequate processes to rehabilitate adult offenders, and in particular, serious and violent individuals that commit those types of crime,” said Rector. “Within that context, they’re saying that there is some of that criteria that they are making recommendations for improvement.”

One of the recommendations included all high-risk individuals should be provided with supervision by probation officers once a week.

Rector indicated the government’s priority was focused on high-risk offenders.

“It’s kind of like triage in a hospital in the sense that if you can’t provide certain levels of supervision for everybody, then who do you focus on?” he asked.

“We’ve been working on constantly meeting our standards on serious violent offenders, and in our plannings to develop resources to provide higher levels of supervision for other types of offenders.”

The Regina data was based on an audit of 30 files.

“We conduct clinical audits for serious violent offenders across the entire province, and we certainly meet the standard of 90 per cent for all of those,” said Rector. “The Provincial Auditor has a few serious violent offenders — I think about seven in there — then the rest are generally high-risk offenders, they could do break and enters, that sort of thing.”

He indicated the two levels of offenders in the report: serious violent offenders, and those who have a high rate to re-offend. Rector noted the latter included property offences and other similar crimes.

“We meet the standard for serious violent offenders, and we develop resources for the broader pool,” he said. “High-risk offenders in Saskatchewan represent about 50 per cent of all probation clientele, and that translates into any given day to about 3,000 offenders. So that’s a huge group with a huge resource to man, and that’s why we prioritize cases.”

Violent crimes falling under the government category include murders, manslaughter, and aggravated sexual assault.

“The really high-end individuals who at often times go to federal prisons, but there’s a number of them that do not and they fall under the provincial system. Those are the ones that we prioritize.”

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